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Swansea Favourites For Relegation?

At a time when terms such as money, commercialism and riches are synonymous with the beautiful game, there are sides like Swansea City, which go against the modern day monotony of the football world. When money is being spent heftily on players, Swansea seem to detach themselves from the surroundings and exist in an isolated environment of their own. How good a sight it is to witness Leon Britton dictate play from the midfield? Or the 33-year-old Angel Rangel maraud the right wing throughout the game? Its a rarity, especially at a time when money has well and truly applied its vice grip over the game. Although, its really refreshing to witness a Premier League side adhere to such an approach, but that is just when the plot thickens.


The Welsh club are currently debt-free, unlike a vast majority of Premier League clubs and are owned around 21 percent by its fans and not millionaire businessmen. But, despite trying hard at it, Swansea have now given up at their attempts to take the path less travelled.

And with changing times, Swansea have begun their transition to the now-monotonous style of spending buckets of money on players. And this attempt to replicate the methods of fellow Premier League clubs has already left the Swans in a bit of a mess, if not a big one. Especially when you consider they’re odds of just 4.50 to be relegated this season according to these betting websites.

The sale of Alberto Paloschi to Atalanta, Andre Ayew to West Ham,  Bafetimbi Gomis on loan Marseille and Euro 2016 winner Eder to Lille shows that the club is now undergoing a change in terms of transfer dealings. The hurried manner of operating shows that the club has now fallen under the influence of commercialism, but is doing a bad bit of business due to it. Although, bad business is something most clubs in the Premier League are accustomed to doing, especially the bigger clubs such as Manchester United or Everton, but Swansea have done it in a manner that can be dubbed as rather careless.

While players like Ashley Williams, Andre Ayew, Paloschi, Gomis among others have been offloaded, no proper replacements have been roped in by Francesco Guidolin, who has been barred from having control over transfers at the club after the £8m capture of Paloschi in January. Four forwards have gone out, but only two have been brought in. One happens to the aged Fernando Llorente and the second is Borja Baston, who has been acquired from Atletico Madrid for a £15m fee.

Ashley Williams, who has been one of the Swans’ most impressive performers ever since they gained promotion in 2012, has been sent hurtling down to Goodison Park, who, much Swansea finished mid-table last season. And Ayew, who scored 12 times for Swansea last season, has been sold to League rivals West Ham. The above two sales suggest a degree of carelessness about transfers that Swansea could well have avoided, but selling your best players to same league rivals at a time when the ongoing Premier League season is set to be the most unpredictable one, doesn’t make sense. Above all, as the transfer window edges close to slamming shut, no replacements have been brought in for the two.

Although, Netherlands Under 21 defender Mike van der Hoorn has been signed from Jong Ajax, but doing as good as the inspirational, motivating and propelling force of Williams would be next to impossible, considering this would be the Dutchman’s first season in England. Jordi Amat, who signed a new deal at the club in 2015, has featured early on in the season, but he isn’t the force that Williams used to be. The Welsh skipper’s determination, that almost instilled a spirit of fighting hard for winning, would be sorely missing. A born leader, Williams is someone you can’t replace with a newcomer to the world’s most physical league or with a defender who hardly saw action in the new Toffees’ defender’s presence. Amat is more of a battler than Williams is, but the Spaniard lacks the leadership qualities that have almost shaped Swansea into what they are today.

It’s not just about not replacing the outgoings with proper replacements, but also about how Guidolin’s men are going to approach their game. Fernando Llorente and Borja Baston are tall, strong and bulky forwards, who compliment the side in being direct and act as a vital outlet for the side to find the back of the net. Apart from the duo, Swansea don’t have anyone who brings in a different dimension to their play, clearly suggestive of how the Swans will look to score this season. And tactical flexibility is a very important part of a manager’s armory, that too in the Premier League, where sides are clever enough to counter a majority of tactics.

Quite recently, Liverpool were at the receiving end of a shock at the hands of Burnley, when they were handed 80 percent of possession at a time when their counter-pressing or what Germans refer to as a gegenpressing was working out.  The 2-0 scoreline came after Sean Dyche’s Clarets scored through Sam Vokes and Andre Gray in the first half, leaving Liverpool to stifle through to the end of the game. And rightly so, a forward who can take defenders on and beat them would add a whole new dimension to the approach they take, when their supposed Plan A is failing.

Jonjo Shelvey, who was offloaded to Newcaste United last January always seemed to act as a pivot for Gylfi Sigurdsson to do the attacking part, but following the Englishman’s departure, the Swans’ reliance on Federico Fernandez and Williams increased. Leroy Fer has been signed on a permanent deal and found the net against Burnley during the 1-0 win at Turf Moor, and although the former Twente man has come close to replacing Shelvey, but its a lesson that Swansea would have to learn from this transfer, having recently begun to follow the new way of signing and selling players.

Newly promoted Burnley will play with a lot of freedom, just because most are expecting them to go down and they’d have nothing to lose and everything to gain in this campaign. There’s hardly any burden of expectation on them to perform to a certain level. And they’ve got a more well-rounded side on paper than Swansea too, with forwards more mobile than Swansea’s and more utlility players in the squad than Guidolin’s men. And despite that, it won’t be a surprise to anyone if the Clarets go down again.

And Swansea themselves would be aware of the consequences of the bad amount of business they have done this summer, with only a little time left to pull of a miracle in it. And their approach to the game, which has to be flexible enough to counter that of the opposition, has to be kept in mind when making those deals. Otherwise, it will all come down to hard work, determination and luck. And again, leaders have to be brought into the side. Once they’ll lose two games on trot, the heads would go down, the morale would be rock bottom and there would be no one to motivate the side into doing better.

A bottom five finish lurks around the corner, with relegation a possibility too, unless some drastic changes are made.

Kaustubh Pandey
Kaustubh Pandey
Football Writer. Aspiring football journalist. Write for CalcioMercato, VAVEL, ForzaItalianFootball, BackPageFootball, OutsideoftheBoot.
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  1. A bit of a sieve report. Doesn’t hold water!
    I was leaning on the view that the piece had some credibility until I read the Shelvey thread, ‘Jonjo Shelvey, … but following the Englishman’s departure, the Swans’ reliance on Federico Fernandez and Williams increased. Leroy Fer … and although the former Twente man has come close to replacing Shelvey, …’
    Shelvey lived on reputation, 5 minutes effort per game, the athleticism of our older wingers who contorted themselves all way in order to gain control of some of the most waylay long ‘passes’ imaginable and a hand full of good passes per season.
    Fer has given us bite, creativity and effort and once Jonjo had left the fans in row Z no longer had to be wary of his legendary shooting ability.

  2. A perfectly reasonable article, but wrong on several fronts. Ayew and Williams wanted to leave once the offers came through, when that happens you have to try to secure the best deal possible, getting £20M for Ayew was about the best we could hope for, but I agree he was vital for us last season and in my view has not been adequately replaced.
    I don’t agree with the Shelvey bit, far too often he got in Siggy’s way and we all know he had a lazy streak. Sadly, I think Fer is out of the same mould, dreadful against Hull last week, casually strolling through the game as if nothing mattered.
    The worst bit of business in this summer, by a country mile, was in not signing Joe Allen. He would energise our team like no other and has already started sensationally with Stoke, maybe even worth a punt on PFA award come end of season. The timing of the takeover was a disaster, clearly HJ’s hands were tied and he couldn’t make a move during those vital 2/3 days when Stoke secured the deal.
    Early days, until our strikers settle in, Ki gets fit and Siggy sharpens up we won’t know how good, bad or ugly the season will be. One final word, don’t be too dismissive about Amat, I think he can become a great player.

  3. Great article . The changes you speak of are imperative to our survival in the EPL and surely must consist of Huw Jenkins. This man has given up before the battle has begun.

  4. Mr Pandey as a Swansea supporter I couldn’t disagree more.

    Your assertion that we have now joined the ranks of clubs carelessly spending huge amounts of money is incorrect. Our net spend this season has been very small.

    In terms of Ashley Williams you are correct that we are going to miss him but selling a player who no longer wishes to play for your team cannot be regarded as foolhardy.

    To call Llorente aged does the man an injustice, he is 31 not 34/35. Álvaro Negredo is the same age and has done well for Middlesborough so far. Also look at 34 year old ibrahimovic and 35 year old Aduriz, to judge a player purely on age is naive.

    I think with Llorente and Baston we have replaced Ayew adequately and they are not as similar to each other as you assert. Llorente is the physical presence but Baston is more of a complete forward. In Spain Baston is very highly thought of and scored a lot of goals, I expect this to continue in the premier league. Swansea do not spend £15 million on average players.

    I also reject the notion that we have started acting carelessly. Huw Jenkins has been retained in his role as chairman by the new owners and has never steered the club wrong in the past. Also expect a stadium expansion in the coming years. This club is going places and although it may be a difficult season I fully expect us to comfortably avoid the drop and finish above 15th place.

  5. It’s not that Swansea have done bad business, its that previous bad business needed to be corrected. Off loading Shelvey, Gomis, Paloschi, was good business. Ayew did a job but didn’t fit and good deal was struck. Whatever his attributes, Ash Williams was a declining force for Swansea and needed a fresh challenge to pick him up.

    The challenge has to be how do they undo the damage of previous business and are the new acquisitions taking the team forward? Part one – the damage, has likely been undone, but part 2 – moving forward looks like just standing still, which in the fast moving PL is effectively sliding back. Relegation? A real possibility, but at this stage I’m not sure ‘favourites’ is the right tag. Much will depend on Guidolins leadership, and players standing up to be counted rather than falling in behind Ash.


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